For children’s sake, don’t jail parents for non-violent offenses

Hedwig Lee, professor of sociology in Arts & Sciences


State lawmakers this session have an opportunity to invest in Missouri’s children by allowing parents convicted of nonviolent crimes to be sentenced to community-based sentences instead of prison, protecting children’s health and saving money. Bills by Sen. David Sater, Rep. David Evans and Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, if passed, would allow Missouri judges to do just that.

Incarcerating parents hurts children’s health. Research has shown that when parents are incarcerated, their children are at greater risk of asthma, migraines and high cholesterol. In addition, daughters are at greater risk of obesity, while sons are at greater risk of heart attacks later in life. These risks affect a lot of kids. More than 5 million U.S. children have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their lives. In Missouri, more than 47,000 children are dependents of incarcerated parents.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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